Air pollution, both outdoor and indoor, occurs when various agents alter the natural characteristics of the atmosphere. Hazardous pollutants include particulate matter, carbon monoxide, ozone, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide. Indoor pollution sources are diverse and can include fuel-burning appliances, construction materials, housekeeping products, paint, tobacco, and dust mites, among others. Indoor air quality was not widely recognized as a concern until the early 2000s, despite population in temperate climates spending up to 90% of the time indoors (in homes, schools, offices and transportation).
Indoor air pollution is responsible for 3.8 million premature deaths worldwide in 2016 and the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that the cost of air pollution could exceed 1% of global GDP by 2060.
In France, evaluations indicate that 60% of homes and 34% of offices and classrooms lack proper air ventilation or treatment systems, leading to poor indoor air quality. Children are more vulnerable to indoor air pollution due to their higher breathing rates (around 40 breaths per minute on average compared to 16 in adults).
According to a survey conducted by Elabe for Veolia Group, despite 90% of French people believing that air quality affects their health, they tend to underestimate the health risks and the level of indoor air pollution, particularly in private spaces. A significant number (52%) are surprised to learn that indoor air can be more polluted than outdoor air. Three out of four incorrectly believe their home air quality is good. There is a prevailing lack of information about prevention, indoor air quality measurements, solutions, and health implications, with less than half feeling adequately informed. Many are unaware of available measurement and treatment systems, including sensors and ventilation/filtration systems for indoor air.
In 2013, the French Health and Environment ministries launched a plan of action on indoor air quality. Among the steps taken was the compulsory monitoring of air quality in childcare centers, kindergartens, and primary schools, which started on January 1, 2018. This measure is now being applied to all similar establishments from January 1, 2023.